What a concept, to hit the road at three in the morning, peacoats and coffee in tow, to head up the slender road that slithers in brisk 180-degree turns along the pitch black darkness off the mountainside.  In about 37 miles, the road took us from sea level to about 10,000 feet – our rental Mustang sharing the lanes with a slew of Jeeps, hatchbacks, and the occasional white tour company van.  We stopped at the summit of Haleakala, House of the Sun, parking below an observatory a few hundred meters past the more popular Visitors Center.  After a brief shivering nap, we walked up to join the small crowd huddled together, looking up at the still-dark Haleakala sky dotted with stars, out over the silhouette of jagged volcanic peaks, and down from our height at the distant expanse of clouds that were brightening with yellow, orange, lavender. On the way back down the mountain, we caught a glimpse of the western valley and the shadow of Haleakala over land and water: The sunsets we caught around the island (in Wailea and Lahaina) were just as inspiring:

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